UPS Backlog Means Missing Christmas Gifts; Amazon Responds

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT/CNN) – Santa wasn’t the only one racing against the clock to get packages to homes Tuesday night. UPS was too.

But the company’s backlog left some Americans with gifts missing from under the Christmas tree Wednesday morning.

“We’re terribly sorry,” spokeswoman Natalie Black told CNN.

In a statement, the company explained that “the volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network immediately preceding Christmas so some shipments were delayed.”

“We know how hard it is for everyone to receive their holiday packages, and we’re working around the clock to resolve this issue,” Black said.

The Banks family in Huntsville raced to the front door everytime they heard a deliver truck pull into their neighborhood, but one special Christmas present didn’t make it on time for present opening time.

“I’m just glad I had a backup plan,” Sean Banks told WHNT News 19. “My wife would have been really mad if I had not scrambled to get something else wrapped up under the tree since her gift did not show up on time, even though it was supposed to be here on the 23rd,” Banks added.

UPS stuck to its plan to make no deliveries on Christmas, angering some customers.

“Thanks for totally screwing us AND lying about it all day,” Mo Husseini posted on Twitter. He was responding to a UPS tweet in which the company vowed “every effort to get packages to their destination.”

“There will be an afternoon sort today,” Black told CNN on Wednesday. “Workers will be processing packages so that tomorrow, bright and early, our drivers can clear out the remaining excess air volume. We expect that air volume to be delivered between tomorrow and Friday.”

The company considered Christmas Day deliveries as an emergency measure, but “after much thought and consideration” decided not to ask drivers to work on the holiday. “They’ve pulled in extra hours. We did a lot of Sunday deliveries, which we normally don’t do. It wasn’t a decision that we came to lightly.”

Asked why the company underestimated the volume of air packages it would receive, Black noted that previous severe weather in the Dallas area had already created a backlog. Then came “excess holiday volume” during a compressed time frame, since the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was shorter than usual this year.

Add to that the consumer trend of doing more shopping online, she said.

“All of this culminated to become the perfect storm, so to speak.”

Amazon responds

Online retailers are damaged by UPS’ mistake. These sites told customers their purchases would arrive in time for Christmas.

Some customers received messages from Amazon.com alerting them of the “failure in the UPS transportation network.” In the message, the company offered to refund shipping charges and provide gift cards.

Amazon representatives could not be reached for comment immediately.

“We have a relationship with Amazon. We will definitely work with all of our retailers,” Black said. “We’re going to make good on our service commitments. What that exactly entails I don’t know, but we’ll work with them to maintain that relationship.”

After January 2, the day the industry processes returns, the company will examine what happened and gauge its contingency planning and losses, she said.

Weather has caused delays in previous years. Technical glitches have as well, but Black said it’s been “quite some time” since that happened.

CNN Contributed to this report

29 comments

  • Amy

    So, let me get this straight. Customers are too lazy to go to the store so instead they shop last minute online then they gripe and moan because delivery people are blessed to spend Christmas with their families instead of running like pack mules? Sounds like entitlement thinking at its finest. Your mommas must be SO PROUD!

    • Wake Up

      Amy, you and others are playing the old “blame the victim” game again! It does not matter if people wait until the last minute. The company should not have promised delivery and took their extra overnight charge if they could not do the job!

      • Brianna

        Wake Up maybe you should wake up. Are you one of the people who didn’t get your package on time? Who did you order it from? Are they the ones that promised overnight delivery? Maybe they didn’t send it out like they promised. Wake up!! Why do you think Amazon is giving out $20 gift cards and offering to refund shipping charges?

    • Wake Up

      It is not an entitlement attitude when you pay extra for overnight and the company takes the money and promises delivery — and than does not deliver! It sounds like you need to watch less Fox News and stop using their code words/phrases!

  • Julia Petritsch

    UPS delivered to the door on Christmas Eve, 2 days before the merchandise was expected. The poor guys were running! I was in no immediate need of the product, but these people were really trying.

  • John Doe

    Shopping online increased this year. An unexpected spike in online sales is hard for any business to anticipate. The UPS guys I see are always busting their tails. Amazon is probably shifting the blame just to cover their own hides. I’ve had plenty of orders that came about a week later than promised over the last year & UPS was not even my shipper.

  • Chris

    I have worked for UPS as a delivery driver for 25 years. I recall delivering on saturdays and sundays to take care of my customers… It is simple. Since the company went public UPS management has stopped caring about the customer and only care about the stock price… BAD MANAGEMENT is to blame… We can track packages and trends. UPS knew this was coming… Most drivers were willing to go the extra mile but were NEVER asked to work thru the weekend. UPS is making record profits but wouldn’t dare pay its workers overtime to “Keep Our Promise”….!!

    • Cheryl

      Thank you Chris for your support, dedication and hard work to your customers. The UPS driver in our area is dedicated year round in providing us our packages in a timely fashion. I don’t get to thank him enough since my UPS delivery has slowed almost completely.

  • Lee

    We were affected by this and didn’t wait until the last minute our package was ordered on Dec 8 and supposed to arrive on the 16th. We called on Friday and were told it will be there Christmas Eve, no problem. Called back Christmas Eve and they wouldn’t even talk to us, said all the supervisors had left for the holiday and someone would call us back Thursday. Don’t even want the package now. And a company I have done business with since 1980 is going to suffer bc I blame them.

  • Brianna

    You have got to be kidding me! If the media would quit putting all the blame on UPS and FedEx maybe some of the people, whom most can only blame themselves, would start to look for the real reason their packages were not delivered on time. Maybe it was waiting until the last minute to do your shopping; or possibly the company you placed your order with did not ship on time; or it could have been due to the weather and planes were grounded or roads were closed! Our country has been hit with a lot of unusual weather. And maybe you should look past the fact that your package is a day late and think about some of the people up north who’s power has been out for days, and might not come back on until next week.
    Also, for those of you who say you paid for overnight delivery… Who took that order? Did you place your order through UPS or FedEx? Or did you place that order on line through a retailer that promised overnight? If one of the shipping companies promised overnight then I can understand your concerns. Otherwise I think you should investigate before you start laying blame.
    Again, to the media I have to say “You have got to be kidding me!!”
    Maybe you should do a little more investigating yourselves!

    • baby2014

      People pay extra for the NDA shipment for a reason, who cares if they waited till the last minute. Businesses have contracts with UPS and FED Ex to support those last minute decisions. If the customer paid for it and it didn’t happen, they deserve their money back! That said, I had a package delivered at 9pm on Christmas Eve by UPS, and we were so excited and grateful to that driver for delivering packages on Christmas Eve when he could have and really should have been at home with his own family.

      • Brianna

        You are right people do pay extra for overnight delivery, but if you watch the news, they have been talking about delays for weeks. Yes businesses have contracts with UPS and FedEx, but have you read those contracts? Or possibly the fine print under your retailers overnight agreement? Or have you ever worked in retail? I am betting the answer to all of the above questions is no. You might be surprised at what you would find out if you had. And yes they do deserve their money back, but from who? You were one of the lucky ones that received your packages. What are you complaining about?

        My point is….. Everybody needs to start accepting blame for the situation! UPS and FedEx did not cause all of this to happen by their selves!!

  • Jessica

    If you’re all healthy, be thankful and get over it. It’s not the end of the world. People are so spoiled nowadays. The world has real problems. I’m proud that ups didnt make their employees work on Christmas Day.

  • baby2014

    @ Brianna, As a matter of fact I do work in the business world and we use Fed Ex/UPS EVERYDAY! They have special agents set up for NDA shipments and issues associated with those shipments. I can promise you one thing, we NEVER say to our customer when a package is late, you should not have waited till the last minute to order your stuff! That is completely unprofessional and further more if UPS/FED EX knew there would be delays, then as a business that is in the business of making promises they should have been better prepared for that!!!

    • Brianna

      You are taking this way too personal!! Working in the business world has nothing to do with retail! And maybe you are responding to the wrong post because I NEVER said “You should not have waited till the last minute to order your stuff!” I said have you read the contracts with the retailers? RETAIL is a totally different world. Why do you think Amazon is offering $20 gift cards and to refund shipping??

  • baby2014

    Maybe it was waiting until the last minute to do your shopping;

    I pulled that from your post and because you do not know the type of business that I work in, you have no idea how different my business world is from retail–retail is a business and maybe it became personal when you made it personal when you asked specific questions about how much I know/don’t know about UPS/Fed Ex. You can win this little debate if you need to Brianna–have a great day!

    • Brianna

      My comment says maybe it was because of waiting till last minute and offered other reasons! You are right I don’t know your business but obviously its not RETAIL! I did not ask you what you know or don’t know about UPS or FedEx. I made a comment about their contracts with RETAILERS. This is not about your business! Its about RETAIL!

      My entire post has been to take the spot light off UPS and FedEx and put it where it belongs. RETAIL!!

      • Wake Up

        Brianna, don’t worry, you are doing a great job being an apologist for big businesses! Just how much stock do you own in UPS? It must be a lot!

      • Brianna

        You don’t know me! The anger issue I have is that the wrong people are being blamed! You even said yourself the distributors should be paying back the shipping fees. Amazon is the only one that has taken their share of responsibility.

  • Tonya

    I know UPS had issues, but Amazon is great! I ordered through them and used Fed Ex shipping. I specifically paid for “Saturday delivery”. By 10 pm Saturday night, I had no package and Amazon had already credited my shipping charges back to me. If it’s UPS Red or NDA or Fed Ex overnight, it should be guaranteed to the customer. If not, then the distributor will credit back your payment and then go after the shipper for repayment back to them.

  • Kathy S

    I order constantly from Amazon and had two packages that haven’t been delivered. I think this boils down to what Chris said. UPS didn’t want to pay their people overtime! I guess they will rethink this after they finish giving Amazon their discounts. I was furious. I told Amazon that I expected $25 gift cards to my friends whose presents were late!

  • Pam Inman

    I worked at UPS for thirty years. They as a company cannot be blamed because the consumer waited 364 days to order something.

  • Bryan

    I really don’t know about UPS, but I do know I ordered t-shirts from Auburn University they did not arrive when promised. FEDEX called Christmas eve to ask about delivery on Christmas Day delivery, I told them Thursday would be fine. FEDEX showed up 9am on Christmas Day. I really appreciate what they did they have my respect for that, UPS not so much.

  • Deb

    Don’t shop last minute, I do not think it is UPS fault, if they had been ordered way ahead of time there would have been no problem.

  • Bryan

    My order was not last minute. It was ordered 12-2-13, but fedex had it for 5 days. They made sure it was here in time.

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